Saturday, June 11, 2011

Renault Megane Sport

A History of Renault - The Pre-War Years

Renault, the world famous maker of cars, tractors, buses, vans and lorries, was founded in France in 1899 by Louis Renault along with his brothers Fernand and Marcel. The company was initially called Societe Renault Freres, though what was to be the first Renault vehicle was actually produced a year before the formal formation of the new company. The new car was called the Renault Voiturette 1CV and was given its first test drive on Christmas Eve, 1898.
In a bid to court publicity for the new company, the decision was taken to enter motor racing events. Renault enjoyed success in the new sport, but it led to the death of Marcel Renault. Despite the tragedy, the company continued to engage in motor racing. They were part of history when Ferenc Szisz won the first Grand Prix, held in 1906, in a Renault AK 90 CV. That same year Louis Renault took sole charge of the company as failing health forced the other surviving brother Fernand to retire.
Renault had also been making their mark in the fledgling car market. In their first year of operation they launched their first sedan car. However, at FFR3,000 for Renault's smallest and cheapest car they were very much luxury items. The company also quickly diversified production, rolling out lorries, taxis and buses.
The World War One years, between 1914 and 1918, also saw the company branch out into war production as the company turned its attention to manufacturing ammunition, aeroplanes, lorries and the renowned F-17 tank for the French and allied military. Those efforts saw Louis honoured by the allied nations following their victorious end to the war.
The First World War certainly did not have a detrimental effect on the fortunes of Renault as it emerged as France's biggest private sector company. They also entered the export market, sending its engines, the Renault 26 hp and 40 hp four-cylinder engine, to the United States.
The re-emergence of peace saw the business diversify further, entering the agricultural and industrial sector by producing machinery. However, on the car production side the company were losing out in its ability to produce cars that were more affordable to the general public though sales at the higher end were growing. Nevertheless they continued to expand their range of cars and 1928 production exceeded 45,000 and included a range of seven different models. And, though exports to the United States had all but dried up, the company was enjoying success in the United Kingdom market.
In the decade prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Renault produced a range of luxury cars, including the Vivastellas and Grand Renaults. The later were made mainly of aluminium, many of which were scrapped to aid the war effort at the outbreak of hostilities.
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